Meet the Makers at ACM

12 04 2013

The time has finally come! On Sunday, May 5, Austin Children’s Museum will be participating in the 2013 Austin Mini Maker Faire. The event will be held at the Palmer Events Center from 10am -6pm.

What is Mini Maker Faire? It’s a community-oriented learning event where families and individuals are brought together to showcase any and all Do-It-Yourself projects. Maker Faire is arranged in a show-and-tell format, allowing makers to connect by showing what they’ve made and sharing what they’ve learned.

Credit: Austin Mini Maker Faire

Credit: Austin Mini Maker Faire

Every Sunday at ACM, we welcome this year’s Makers to show off their stuff and answer any questions. A special guest leads the activity as Makers do different DIY activities to prepare for the upcoming event.

Last week at Meet the Makers, we had fun making our own soap from scratch!

On Sunday, April 14, join the Makers from Austin Mini Maker Faire Craft division and design a beautiful denim crown to wear home. Burnadette Noll will be attending as our special guest and she will have everything you need to stitch and create a unique upcycled crown. Show the world that you are the King or Queen of your very own universe and come meet the Makers to get excited for Mini Maker Faire on May 5!





Meet Candra Thorton, Early Learners Coordinator

8 04 2013

Candra_croppedIn November 2012, Candra Thornton joined ACM as a gallery manager. Among her responsibilities, Candra oversees the Early Learners programs: Baby Bloomers and Cub Club.

Candra has a Ph.D. in Early Childhood Education from The University of Texas at Austin and 20 years of experience working with children. We caught up with Candra to ask her a few questions about herself and the Early Learners programs.

Q: Tell us about your previous experience working with young children.

A: I started as a kindergarten teacher then joined the staff of an Austin preschool working with toddlers while I finished graduate school. I have also worked with children under the age of five in various research projects as a professor of Early Childhood Education.

Q: Why did you choose to work at ACM?

A: My primary professional interest has always been to work with young children. As my career progressed and I developed research interests, I focused my attention on the benefits of play in this age group. At ACM, I’m able to utilize what I love to do, working with young children, with what I believe in,  the power of play.

Q: What new things do you have planned for Baby Bloomers & Cub Club?

A:There will be traditional weekly themes like colors and shapes, but I am introducing new themes such as “Colors of Us” and “Yummy! Yummy!”. I am also bringing in new guests for Sing-a-long as well as increasing the frequency of their visits.

Q: How do you develop ideas for activities?

A: Many ways: some I’ve done with children in the past, some I’ve accumulated over the years and saved for later, and some come from random resources like books and the internet that I put my own twist on to make appropriate for ACM’s youngest visitors. Great ideas are everywhere.

Q: In your opinion, what is one of the most important things to know about early childhood development?

A:Young children experience the world in qualitatively different ways than we do and to accommodate that, they should have as many opportunities to engage in open-ended, hands-on free play as possible.

Q: What’s a fun learning activity parents or caregivers can do at home with young children?

A: Yummy! Yummy! Bunny Sundaes is a wonderful activity for young children. Bunny Sundaes  is a multi-sensory activity that includes questions about sights, smells, sounds and tastes. This activity also involves math. How much yogurt is being measured? How many bunnies are being added on top? Is there more strawberry or banana fruit in the bowl? 

Here’s how to do it at home: 

IMG_9182_cropped

You’ll need:

  1. Vanilla yogurt (dairy or non-dairy)
  2.  Annie’s Bunny Grahams or something similar
  3.  Two fresh strawberries (cut in ½ or ¼)
  4.  One third of of a banana, peeled.

Instructions: Provide a plastic knife and with supervision, allow children to “cut” (sometimes it comes out more like mashing) the strawberries and banana. Children then place into a bowl ¼ cup yogurt, the cut fruit pieces, and 5 bunnies. There are endless variations on how Bunny Sundaes can be assembled and enjoyed, so allow children freedom to explore and indulge.

Once you’ve made your Bunny Sundae. Dig in and enjoy this tasty treat.





Think, Do, Make!

7 03 2013

This spring we opened a new exhibit called, Think, Do, Make. One of the activities you can do in the exhibit is make a paper “roto-copter” and launch it in our Flow Lab. You can also make roto-copters and test them out at home.

Download Copters and print out the roto-copters. Cut along the solid lines and fold along the dashed lines to make your roto-copter.

Add a paper clip to the bottom of your roto-copter to give it some weight. Drop your roto-copter from a high place or toss it in the air. What do you notice?

How can you change your roto-copter to make it spin differently? Try adding paper clips, using different weights of paper, or trimming the “blades” of your roto-copter to different lengths. Happy flying!





Exploring Local History

23 08 2012

This summer we’ve been writing about how the Museum is creating an archive that will live on a computer. We’re doing this by digitizing things!

Digitizing is when you take something non-digital (like a paper letter or a print photograph) and turn it into something digital that lives on a computer. People use things like scanners to create a digital copy of something. We have a scanner here at the museum that we’re using to digitize things like old photographs.

Why do people digitize things? When something like a photograph is digital, you can do lots of cool thing with it. We found a neat website recently that is using old, digitized photographs in fun ways.

Historypin lets you explore cities by looking at old photographs. The cool part is that all of these photographs are put on a map, so you can see how familiar places used to look a long time ago. You can find pictures of Austin dating back to the 1800s on Historypin!

Another site that lets you explore maps and old photographs is Sepia Town.

Try exploring places you’ve visited and see how much things have changed over time.





Harness the Heat: Make Your Own Solar Oven!

16 08 2012

How do solar ovens work? Well, as you can tell from your day-to-day observations, the sun not only provides light, but also works as a heat source.  That’s why it’s warmer during the day, when the sun is out, than it is at night, when the moon is up.  With a solar oven, you use reflectors (aluminum foil) to reflect the sun’s light into a closed container and the heat is trapped inside.  With this heat, you can cook some really great snacks!

If you do make a solar oven, remember that the oven can get very hot (just like ovens in kitchens), so you should be very careful when using the oven. Heat-resistant cloths or hand covers are great ways to protect yourself from the heat.

To make your own solar oven, you will need the following materials:

– a pizza box

– aluminum foil

– plastic wrap

– tape

– pen or pencil

– scissors

– ruler

First take your pizza box and draw a square around the lid of the pizza box about two inches from the edges.  Cut along only three edges: the front and sides of the pizza box.  Do not cut the fourth side that runs along the back of the pizza box.

 

Fold along the uncut line so that you form a flap.  After folding the flap back, wrap it in a piece of aluminum foil and tape it down.  Make sure that the shiny side is facing out and that there are no wrinkles in the foil.

 

Next, open up the pizza box and cover the insides with foil.  Make sure to cover the bottom and the sides of the pizza box.  Have the shiny side of the foil face up and overlap the pieces to cover any gaps. Tape into place.

 

While the pizza box is open, we’re going to cover the hole made by the foil-covered flap with plastic wrap.  Before cutting a piece of plastic wrap, you can tape down one side and then unroll the plastic wrap across the hole.  Make sure the plastic wrap is the right size and that it is taped down tightly so that no air can get out.

After these steps, you’ve completed your solar oven!

 

Click for more to see how to make some yummy food with your new solar oven!

Read the rest of this entry »





Story Time Library: Let’s Get Organized!

13 08 2012

Hi ACM Blog readers!

I’m Melody,  a summer intern here at the museum, helping out with our archival projects, as well as with the Story Time library.

Each day before Story Time, our readers choose a few great stories from a whole collection of books here at the museum.  Sometimes, the books can get a little messy and hard to find.

Photo by Prio on Flickr

That’s why this summer, I have been finding new ways to organize them and clean the shelves up a bit!

In the Story Time Library, I have been using some fun, new colorful labels to help people find books that fall under certain topics.  Each color stands for a different topic: Green = Environment, Blue = Ocean, Orange = Mammals, Red = Food, etc.  If one day, a Story Time reader wants books about dogs, cats, and pizza, he or she can just look through the books labeled with an orange and/or red sticker!  Easy, right?

There are lots of great ways to group together similar things, not just for your books.

Activity: Organizing Time!

Try going through your bedroom or playroom to organize things like:

  • Clothes
  • Toys
  • School/art supplies
  • DVDs
  • Video games

Find a creative and fun way to group them together, so that they will be easier for you to find later on!  Maybe you can organize your movies and games alphabetically and your clothes by color and style. You could label different tubs or boxes with the words “Pens”, “Pencils”, “Markers”, and “Crayons”, so that your school and art supplies will stay where they are supposed to.

Any way you do it, make sure it helps you stay clean and organized!

Photo by jenni waterloo on Flickr
Group things by color!

Photo by matthew_moss on Flickr
Organize office supplies!





Woodcrafting 101 Workshop!

9 08 2012

Last weekend at our Museum we had our Woodcrafting 101 Workshop where kids of all ages made their very own woven latices! The process consisted of four easy steps and young boys and girls were able to learn about tools and their functions while they built and decorated their own latice.

An example of a woven latice that Matt made!

Here are the four steps the kids went through in order to make this neat craft!

1. First, the children started out with two 16 inch pieces of wood and measured and marked 1 inch holes for the drilling process later on. Then the children cut the two pieces of wood in half with a dovetail saw and ended up with four 8 inch pieces of wood!

Learning how to mark and measure.

Learning how to use the dovetail saw to cut the pieces of wood in half!

2. Second, the children brought their four pieces of cut wood to be drilled. We showed them how to use a drill and used a larger sized bit for the holes on the ends and a smaller sized bit for all of the other holes. We made sure to wear goggles at all times to protect our eyes!

After cutting the wood, the next step was to drill the holes!

Showing the kids how to use a drill safely.

Making sure to always wear goggles and hold the drill downward at a straight angle.

3. Next the kids took their newly drilled pieces of wood over to the nuts and bolts station where they assembled the frame to their latice! We showed them how to put the frame together using nuts and bolts and how to tighten it with a wrench.

The third step is to assemble the frame!

The kids learned how to use nuts and bolts to put the pieces of wood together.

Learning how to use a wrench to tighten the nuts and bolts.

4. The last and final step was to weave different colored yarn and string through the holes that they drilled earlier with a plastic needle.

The last step is to decorate the latice by weaving different colored string through the holes!

The children got to pick what colors and kinds of string they wanted to use for their latice!

The kids learned how to use a plastic needle to weave the string through the holes of the frame.

Who knew that working with tools could be so fun?! The children were able to learn how to use simple materials and tools to make an awesome craft that they got to take home! Kids and parents had a great time learning how to build a woven latice!

Everyone had a great time at our woodcraft workshop!